The National Astronomical Observatories of China (NAOC) is joining forces with the Breakthrough Initiatives to launch a coordinated search for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth, using some of the world’s most powerful telescopes. NAOC’s brand-new FAST telescope – the world’s largest filled-aperture radio receiver – will join the Breakthrough Listen program at Green Bank Telescope in the US and the Parkes Observatory in Australia, and together the organizations will exchange observing plans, search methods and data – including the rapid sharing of promising new signals for additional observation and analysis. The two parties are also planning a series of meetings and conferences to refine search strategies, data analyses and results.
At a signing ceremony at NAOC headquarters in Beijing, the collaboration was announced via a joint statement by Prof. Jun Yan, Director General of NAOC, and Pete Worden, Chairman of Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of Breakthrough Initiatives. They looked forward to “a long and productive scientific collaboration,” and invited scientists around the world to join in “one of humanity’s greatest quests.”
“‘Are we alone?’ is a question that unites us as a planet,” said Yuri Milner, Founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives, “And the quest to answer it should take place at a planetary level too. With this agreement, we are now searching for cosmic companions with three of the world’s biggest telescopes across three continents.”
“The Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST), located in Guizhou, China, achieved first light in September 2016. It is the world’s largest filled-aperture radio receiver, and will be one of the most powerful instruments to search for the potential intelligent life beyond Earth,” said Prof. Jun Yan, the Director General of NAOC. ”We are delighted to be collaborating with the Breakthrough Initiatives.”
“The FAST telescope is a remarkable instrument with unprecedented power,” said Pete Worden, Executive Director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “We are delighted to be collaborating with NAOC.”
The Breakthrough Initiatives are a set of long-term astronomical programs exploring the Universe, seeking scientific evidence of life beyond Earth, and encouraging public debate from a planetary perspective. Breakthrough Listen, launched in July 2015, is the most comprehensive astronomical search for intelligent life ever undertaken. It employs two of the world’s biggest radio telescopes: the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, USA, and the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia; as well as the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory in California, USA, which searches for laser signals.